UW’s Dell / Napster deal – finances and terms released


The UW Daily obtained the details of the University’s deal with Dell and Napster to offer Napster services for the students in the residence halls this fall.

The article by Kayla Webley is here.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus Blog has this to say:

How much does a college have to pay to give its students an academic year’s worth of legal music downloads? Not quite as much as you might think.

As part of a deal announced earlier this month, the University of Washington at Seattle will fork over $24,000 to Napster, the online music service, to provide students living on campus with eight-month subscriptions. The money will come from royalties generated by the university’s own technology licenses. The price tag isn’t cheap, but it’s not terrible for a university with almost 6,000 residential students: According to most estimates, colleges can expect to pay $2 or $3 a month for each student who signs up.

Ashlee Vance in The Register, on the other hand, is outraged, in a story headlined “University bans iPod adverts”:

But here’s the real rub.

“Under the provisions the University must exclusively promote the Dell branded DJ, secure two Dell kiosks on campus to feature Dell products and services, facilitate a Dell launch event in the back-to-school timeframe, host Dell information on the UW website, execute an email campaign and participate in a case study,” The Daily reported.

So students have been put on a music meat market where they’re being force fed a service that doesn’t work with Mac OS X, Linux or even older versions of Windows and that doesn’t work with the leading MP3 player. Instead, the kids will have to listen to a sales pitch for Dell’s embarrassing device and nothing else.

Not that Ashlee ever actually checked with the University to see what really is going on here – he prefers to get all his information second hand.

And not that he’s got an opinion to grind here – but you might want to check his other stories:








Just for the record, Ashlee – the exclusive promotion on the Dell DJ is within the Napster / Dell deal.

As we’ve told every one of the dozens of reporters who’ve called us about this story (As far as I know Ashlee has not called), we have been talking to Apple about possible ways we might leverage the iTunes Music Store for our campus population. If Apple comes up with a program that makes it possible for us to offer iTunes music to our students at any affordable pricing, we’ll be very happy to participate. So far Apple don’t seem to be very interested in the university market (perhaps the advantage of being the market leader by a long shot).

As everyone probably knows, I’m certainly not a fan of copy-protected music that only runs on one operating system or one type of portable player. I know from talking to them that the folks at Napster would be very happy to make their content available on iPods, if Apple was willing to offer them the copy-protection that they use (and that the record labels require). I also assume that Dell would likewise be happy to put iTunes Music Store content on their DJ players, if Apple would make that possible.

I’m just as sick and tired as the next guy of online music being locked up in such a way that makes the only good choice to go buy CDs and rip them myself (though even CD’s are being copy protected now). But I think Apple’s just as guilty as Napster and the others.

And at least Napster is interested in our business.

One thought on “UW’s Dell / Napster deal – finances and terms released”

  1. One key difference between apple and the others is, while Apple DRM locks you into iTunes (available on multiple platforms) it doesn’t lock you into any service.

    I can pay 3.96 for four songs and be able to listen to them with itunes on my current computer until it melts. With napster, I pay a flat rate for a month of music, but if I want my four songs that’s a monthly fee forever.

    This agreement makes it so students are likely to have a good chunk of their library on loan from napster, and once the graduate they’ll need to keep paying through the nose just not to lose their college music collection. Very shady.


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